These days you will often find early-2000’s American bands touring the UK in package type tours. In fact this is the second and third time respectively that I’ve seen Alien Ant Farm and Soil on such tours in this very venue. Knowing how much fun these two bands are live made my attendance at The Waterfront in Norwich tonight a complete no-brainer.
The unknown quantity tonight for me is opening act Local H, whom I will admit to assuming wouldn’t be any good due to the somewhat lame name. How wrong I was however as from the opening note to the last thrash of the guitar this two-piece provide the already packed crowd with a rocking opening half-hour. As a brash rock two-piece they will surely get compared with the likes of The White Stripes, The Black Keys and the more contemporary Royal Blood. Much like I have just done, but to be fair on tonight’s evidence Local H can easily hold their own with their more notable peers.
The best thing about these so called package tours is the value for money that they provide. Soil are a band who have and could still headline this venue by themselves. In fact frontman Ryan McCombs continually declares his love for the venue throughout their set. Tonight Soil plough quickly through a set of fan favourites that are drawn mostly from early era albums ‘Scars’ and ‘Redefine’. ‘The Hate Song’ from 2013’s ‘Whole’ and their brilliant cover of Lead Belly classic ‘Black Betty’ both receive an outing before McCombs heads into the crowd for a rowdy finish of the brilliant ‘Halo’.
Tonight is well and truly sold out, after all who wouldn’t want to spend their Saturday night moshing along to Soil and singing and dancing along to Alien Ant Farm who are up next. Alien Ant Farm burst onto a hot rock scene which was riding the wave of nu-metal in 2001 with debut album ‘ANThology’. From there the band experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It’s certainly been a turbulent career for the Americans until this point but things have finally settled down for the band.
2015 even saw them release ‘Always And Forever’, their first studio album in just under ten years. It is also around this time that they have begun to frequent our shores having been pretty elusive for a number of years prior. It’s the hits of the first two albums that receive the biggest reactions tonight, but it’s good to hear some newer material in the mix and to not see a band happy to play the nostalgia card.
‘Movies’ comes early in the set and fellow ‘ANThology’ tracks ‘Attitude’, ‘Courage’, ‘Wish’ and ‘Sticks And Stones’ are all present, but it’s the likes of ‘Glow’ and ‘These Days’ from underrated second album ‘TruANT’ that impress me most tonight. Singer Dryden Mitchell is engaging with the audience and clearly relishes the opportunity to perform.
With the venues club night drawing near the band must finish their set and having heard Soil’s popular cover song earlier, tonight was always going to be about Alien Ant Farm’s own famous cover song. With that, all that’s left is for ‘Smooth Criminal’ to send the sold out crowd home happy, after three fun-filled performances. As I mentioned earlier this was great value for money and long may these package tours continue.